Studio Profile

modern contextual architecture and design

Modern Contextual Architecture + Design

WHO WE ARE

Founded in 2004, CityDeskStudio is led by partner Ben Awes, with team members Nate Dodge, Max Ouellette-Howitz, and Chris Bach. We believe that architecture must express who our clients are, and what they believe. It must ask questions, push boundaries, and challenge pre-conceptions, all while working within proven construction practices. Working together we offer our clients the energy of a studio environment, where every project benefits from the combined expertise of the entire team.    

The name CityDeskStudio expresses an interest we have in exploring the boundaries that architecture operates within - the larger boundless environment suggested by CITY and the intense focused craftsmanship of the object, the DESK. The focus of the STUDIO, architecture, exists between and engages both of these scales.


Studio Team

Ben Awes, Partner

Ben Awes, Partner

Ben Awes AIA / Partner

Ben is a principal and co-founder of CityDeskStudio. He came to architecture though an interest in furniture design and fabrication and he brings this interest in materiality and assembly to the projects in the office. Prior to co-founding CityDeskStudio he worked for Ralph Rapson and Julie Snow Architects. 

"Architecture is a human expression of our understanding of our place in the world. Through it we achieve shelter, but more than this, we strive for meaning; permanence, identity, and for an expression of our relationships with each other and the things around us. We concretize our understanding of these things in buildings."

A modernist at heart, Ben believes architecture must point to the future. At the same time it is of today and gains richness and becomes meaningful through an understanding and exploration of its context — physically, socially and historically. Ultimately architecture is realized through the relationships formed between the people involved. The practice of architecture is a daily challenge that is both humbling and greatly rewarding.

 

Nate Dodge, Project Manager

Nate Dodge, Project Manager

Nate Dodge / Project Manager

Nate is a Project Manager in his 4th year at CityDeskStudio. Prior to this he worked as a designer at a commercial design/build firm in Minneapolis.

Nate’s design experience includes residential, retail, office, multifamily, student and senior housing. He holds a Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota.

Nate brings an interest in material exploration to each project at CityDeskStudio. He views this as an opportunity to reach beyond the physical constraints of a space to connect on a much deeper level with the context and history of a place. Nate's research focuses on innovative material solutions, as well as reinterpreting common materials in new and unique ways.

Nate compliments his architecture career with a passion for music composition and the study of acoustics in performance spaces. This overlap of music and architecture began as an area of research during graduate school, and continues to be a source of inspiration today.

 

Max Ouellette-Howitz, Architectural Intern

Max Ouellette-Howitz, Architectural Intern

Max Ouellette-Howitz / Architectural Intern

Max is an architectural intern at CityDeskStudio. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota.

Max discovered architecture in eighth grade when he created a scale model of the Willey House, a Frank Lloyd Wright house in his childhood neighborhood of Prospect Park. Following that project, he continued to pursue architecture outside of the classroom working as an intern for a Minneapolis residential design firm.

Max approaches architecture as the framework for people’s lives, and his interest in residential design reflects this. He believes that designing a house is an opportunity to create space that reinforces who you are, to create with intention.

As a student, Max is continually introduced to new design technology and exposed to architectural philosophies both historical, and contemporary. He brings passion and this constantly expanding library of concepts to his work at CityDeskStudio. 

Chris Bach,  Architectural Designer

Chris Bach,  Architectural Designer

Chris Bach / Architectural Designer

Chris is the newest member of the CityDeskStudio team.  He comes in as a project manager with 6 years of diverse multi-disciplinary experience in architectural, graphic, industrial and landscape design.

Chris holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Before moving to Minnesota two years ago, he has spent much of his professional life living and working in Brazil, Spain, Washington DC and New York.

Chris views Architecture as a specific application of design that melds together science and art. Good Architecture is created as material and form drive one another and become intertwined. The role of the architect encompasses and extends beyond the form of a building into processes of material research, prototyping, and fabrication.

Apart from Architecture, Chris enjoys renovating his 100 year old house, biking, photography, and exploring the cities.


Awards

Our projects have been recognized locally and nationally for their innovation and design quality. 

2016 Minneapolis St Paul Magazine RAVE (Residential Architects Vision and Excellence) Award 
Inside Outside Poolside
Edina, MN

2016 Minneapolis St Paul Magazine RAVE (Residential Architects Vision and Excellence) Award 
Gathering Kitchen
Mendota Heights, MN

2015 MN AIA / Star Tribune Home of the Month
Edina Split-Level Remodel
Edina, MN

2015 MN AIA Merit Award
Peppers & Fries Burger & Burrito Grill
Minneapolis, MN

2015 Minneapolis St Paul Magazine RAVE (Residential Architects Vision and Excellence) Award 
'New Life at the Split'
St Louis Park, MN

2015 Minneapolis St Paul Magazine RAVE (Residential Architects Vision and Excellence) Award 
Garden LEVEL
Golden Valley, MN

 

 

2015 Minneapolis St Paul Magazine RAVE (Residential Architects Vision and Excellence) Award 
Mid-Century Bathroom Transformation
Minneapolis, MN

2015 AIA MN Leadership Forum
Bob Ganser, AIA

2014 AIA MN Young Architect Award
Bob Ganser, AIA2014 Minneapolis St Paul Magazine RAVE (Residential Architects Vision and Excellence) Award

1980's Kitchen Addition & Remodel
Minnetonka, MN

2014 Minneapolis St Paul Magazine RAVE (Residential Architects Vision and Excellence) Award
Coconut Bath
Golden Valley, MN

2013 MN AIA / Midwest Home Award: Emerging Talent 
Ben Awes, AIA

2012 MN AIA / Star Tribune Home of the Month
Edina Modern
Edina, MN

 

 

 

2011 MN AIA / Star Tribune Home of the Month 
Opposite Natures Renovation
Minneapolis, MN

2009 Minneapolis St Paul Magazine RAVE (Residential Architects Vision and Excellence) Award 
Opposite Natures Renovation
Minneapolis, MN

2009 MN AIA / Star Tribune Home of the Month
Familiar Cabin
Minong, WI

2009 Minneapolis St Paul Magazine RAVE (Residential Architects Vision and Excellence) Award
bookSTAIRcase
Saint Paul, MN

2007 Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Award
Day Block Building Renovation

2007 MN AIA / Star Tribune Home of the Month
Graphic Nature House
Roseville, MN

2007 MN AIA / Star Tribune Home of the Month 
Fairwind Cabin
Knife River, MN


Publications

Spaces Magazine – October / November 2015
‘Mid-Century Modern Bathroom(s) Remodel'

Minneapolis / St. Paul Magazine / Home Design Supplement – Summer 2015
‘The 12th Annual Rave Awards'

Star Tribune – April 26, 2015
‘Building, remodeling designs that feel right at home,' by Lynn Underwood

St. Paul Pioneer Press – March 29, 2015
‘Change is good - Before-After 2015 - Edina Split-Level Remodel’

Spaces Magazine – February / March 2015
‘Change is good - Before-After 2015 - Edina Split-Level Remodel’

Star Tribune – February 8, 2015
‘So, you want a free skyway?,’ by Jim Buchta

Midwest Home – Remodeling Guide 2014
‘Midcentury Makeover’

Architecture Minnesota – July / August 2013
‘Light Touch – Treehouse Extension’

 Architecture Minnesota – July / August 2013
‘Studio’

Midwest Home – April / May 2013
‘Contextual Modernism’

Twin Cities Business Magazine – August 2012
‘An Office Designed For How you Work’

METRO – November 2011
‘Merriam Park Modern’

Star Tribune – November 07, 2011
‘1930’s bungalow is reborn in Mpls’

New Houses Compact & Prefab – by Jacobo Krauel - LinkBooks - 2010
‘Skyway Retreat’

Cabins – by Carles Broto - LinkBooks - 2010
‘Private Cabin’

Minneapolis / St. Paul Magazine - Home Supplement – Summer 2010
‘Celebrating Architectural Vision and Excellence’

Star Tribune - May 9, 2010
‘Oh Baby You’ve Got Style’

Star Tribune - March 28, 2010
‘Basements That Raise The Bar’

Star Tribune – February 5, 2010
‘For Sale:  A Stretch of Gently Used Skyway’ 

Star Tribune - December 06, 2009
‘Hybrid Cabin’

METRO - May 2009
‘The Case of the Wall Storage Conundrum’

 


Other Recognition

Selected amongst Minnesota’s most innovative design thinkers by the Walker Art Center where we took part as members of the design team for “Walker Open Field.” The project explored the transformation of the former Guthrie Theater site into a new cultural commons.  — January 2010.